Home Steel Making Categories Manufacturing and the Economy of Machinery


Accumulating Power
20. Whenever the work to be done requires more force for its ...

On The Causes And Consequences Of Large Factories
263. On examining the analysis which has been given in chapt...

Of Printing From Cavities
83. The art of printing, in all its numerous departments, is ...

Regulating Power
27. Uniformity and steadiness in the rate at which machinery ...

On The Position Of Large Factories
277. It is found in every country, that the situation of lar...

Of The Identity Of The Work When It Is Of The Same Kind And Its Accuracy When Of Different Kinds
79. Nothing is more remarkable, and yet less unexpected, than...

On The Influence Of Durability On Price
197. Having now considered the circumstances that modify what...

Of Copying By Casting
105. The art of casting, by pouring substances in a fluid st...

On The Division Of Labour
241. We have already mentioned what may, perhaps, appear par...

Increase And Diminution Of Velocity
32. The fatigue produced on the muscles of the human frame d...

Registering Operations
65. One great advantage which we may derive from machinery is...

On Over Manufacturing
284. One of the natural and almost inevitable consequences of...

Saving Time In Natural Operations
47. The process of tanning will furnish us with a striking i...

On The Exportation Of Machinery
437. A few years only have elapsed, since our workmen were n...

Of Price As Measured By Money
201. The money price at which an article sells furnishes us ...

Printing From Surface
91. This second department of printing is of more frequent a...

Extending The Time Of Action Of Forces
45. This is one of the most common and most useful of the em...

On The Duration Of Machinery
340. The time during which a machine will continue to perform...

On The Division Of Labour
217. Perhaps the most important principle on which the econo...

On Combinations Of Masters Against The Public
376. A species of combination occasionally takes place among...

On Combinations Of Masters Against The Public

Category: On the domestic and political economy of manufactures

376. A species of combination occasionally takes place
amongst manufacturers against persons having patents: and these
combinations are always injurious to the public, as well as
unjust to the inventors. Some years since, a gentleman invented a
machine, by which modellings and carvings were cut in mahogany,
and other fine woods. The machine resembled, in some measure, the
drilling apparatus employed in ornamental lathes; it produced
beautiful work at a very moderate expense: but the cabinetmakers
met together, and combined against it, and the patent has
consequently never been worked. A similar fate awaited a machine
for cutting veneers by means of a species of knife. In this
instance, the wood could be cut thinner than by the circular saw,
and no waste was incurred; but 'the trade' set themselves against
it, and after a heavy expense, it was given up.

The excuse alleged for this kind of combination, was the fear
entertained by the cabinetmakers that when the public became
acquainted with the article, the patentee would raise the price.

Similar examples of combination seem not to be unfrequent, as
appears by the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons on
Patents for Inventions, June, 1829. See the evidence of Mr

377. There occurs another kind of combination against the
public, with which it is difficult to deal. It usually ends in a
monopoly, and the public are then left to the discretion of the
monopolists not to charge them above the growling point--that
is, not to make them pay so much as to induce them actually to
combine against the imposition. This occurs when two companies
supply water or gas to consumers by means of pipes laid down
under the pavement in the street of cities: it may possibly occur
also in docks, canals, railroads, etc., and in other cases where
the capital required is very large, and the competition very
limited. If water or gas companies combine, the public
immediately loses all the advantage of competition, and it has
generally happened, that at the end of a period during which they
have undersold each other, the several companies have agreed to
divide the whole district supplied, into two or more parts, each
company then removing its pipes from all the streets except those
in its own portion. This removal causes great injury to the
pavement, and when the pressure of increased rates induces a new
company to start, the same inconvenience is again produced.
Perhaps one remedy against evils of this kind might be, when a
charter is granted to such companies, to restrict, to a certain
amount, the rate of profit on the shares, and to direct that any
profits beyond, shall accumulate for the repayment of the
original capital. This has been done in several late Acts of
Parliament establishing companies. The maximum rate of profit
allowed ought to be liberal, to compensate for the risk; the
public ought to have auditors on their part, and the accounts
should be annually published, for the purpose of preventing the
limitations from being exceeded. It must however be admitted,
that this would be an interference with capital, which, if
allowed, should, in the present state of our knowledge, be.
examined with great circumspection in each individual case, until
some general principle is established on well-admitted grounds.

378. An instrument called a gas-meter, which ascertains the
quantity of gas used by each consumer, has been introduced, and
furnishes a satisfactory mode of determining the payments to be
made by individuals to the gas companies. A contrivance somewhat
similar in its nature, might be used for the sale of water; but
in that case some public inconvenience might be apprehended, from
the diminished quantity which would then run to waste: the
streams of water running through the sewers in London, are
largely supplied from this source; and if this supply were
diminished, the drainage of the metropolis might be injuriously

379. In the north of England a powerful combination has long
existed among the coal-owners, by which the public has suffered
in the payment of increased price. The late examination of
evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons, has
explained its mode of operation, and the Committee have
recommended, that for the present the sale of coal should be left
to the competition of other districts.

380. A combination, of another kind, exists at this moment to
a great extent, and operates upon the price of the very pages
which are now communicating information respecting it. A subject
so interesting to every reader, and still more so to every
manufacturer ofthe article which the reader consumes, deserves an
attentive examination.

We have shown in Chapter XXI, p. 144, the component parts of
the expense of each copy of the present work; and we have seen
that the total amount of the cost of its production, exclusive of
any payment to the author for his labour, is 2s. 3d.(1*)

Another fact, with which the reader is more practically
familiar, is that he has paid, or is to pay, to his bookseller,
six shillings for the volume. Let us now examine into the
distribution of these six shillings, and then, having the facts
ofthe case before us, we shall be better able to judgeofthe
meritsofthe combinationjust mentioned, andtoexplainits effects.

Distribution of the profits on a six shilling book

Buys at; Sells at; Profit on capital expended
s. d.; s. d.

No. I--The publisher who accounts to the author for every copy
received; 3 10; 4 2; 10 per cent
No. II--The bookseller who retails to the public; 4 2; 6 0; 44
Or, 4 6; 6 0; 33 1/3

No. I, the publisher, is a bookseller; he is, in fact, the
author's agent. His duties are, to receive and take charge of the
stock, for which he supplies warehouse room; to advise the author
about the times and methods of advertising; and to insert the
advertisements. As he publishes other books, he will advertise
lists of those sold by himself; and thus, by combining many in
one advertisement, diminish the expense to each of his
principals. He pays the author only for the books actually sold;
consequently, he makes no outlav of capital, except that which he
pays for advertisements: but he is answerable for any bad debts
he may contract in disposing of them. His charge is usually ten
per cent on the returns.

No. II is the bookseller who retails the work to the public.
On the publication of a new book, the publisher sends round to
the trade, to receive 'subscriptions' from them for any number of
copies not less than two These copies are usually charged to the
'subscribers', on an average, at about four or five per cent less
than the wholesale price of the book: in the present case the
subscription price is 4s. 2d. for each copy. After the day of
publication, the price charged by the publisher to the
booksellers is 4s. 6d. With some works it is the custom to
deliver twentyfive copies to those who order twenty-four, thus
allowing a reduction of about four per cent. Such was the case
with the present volume. Different publishers offer different
terms to the subscribers; and it is usual, after intervals of
about six months, for the publisher again to open a subscription
list, so that if the work be one for which there is a steady
sale, the trade avail themselves of these opportunities
ofpurchasing, at the reduced rate, enough to supply their
probable demand.(2*)

381. The volume thus purchased of the publisher at 4s. 2d. or
4s. 6d. is retailed by the bookseller to the public at 6s. In the
first case he makes a profit of forty-four, in the second of
thirty-three per cent. Even the smaller of these two rates of
profit on the capital employed, appears to be much too large. It
may sometimes happen, that when a book is enquired for, the
retail dealer sends across the street to the wholesale agent, and
receives, for this trifling service, one fourth part of the money
paid by the purchaser; and perhaps the retail dealer takes also
six months' credit for the price which the volume actually cost

382. In section 256, the price of each process in
manufacturing the present volume was stated: we shall now give an
analysis of the whole expense of conveying it into the hands of
the public.

The retail price 6s. on 3052 produces 915 12 0

1. Total expense of printing and paper 207 5 8 7/11
2. Taxes on paper and advertisements 40 0 11
3. Commission to publisher as agent between author and printer 18
14 4 4/11 4 Commission to publisher as agent for sale of the book
63 11 8
5. Profit--the difference between subscription price and trade
price, 4d. per vol. 50 17 4
6. Profit the difference between trade price and retail price,
1s. 6d. per vol. 228 18 0
362 1 4
7. Remains for authorship 306 4 0

Total 915 12 0

This account appears to disagree with that in page 146. but
it will be observed that the three first articles amount to L266
1s., the sum there stated. The apparent difference arises from a
circumstance which was not noticed in the first edition of this
work. The bill amounting to L205 18s., as there given, and as
reprinted in the present volume, included an additional charge of
ten per cent upon the real charges of the printer and

383. It is usual for the publisher, when he is employed as
agent between the author and printer, to charge a commission of
ten per cent on all payments he makes. If the author is informed
of this custom previously to his commencing the work, as was the
case in the present instance, he can have no just cause of
complaint; for it is optional whether he himself employs the
printer, or communicates with him through the intervention of his

The services rendered for this payment are, the making
arrangements with the printer, the wood-cutter, and the engraver,
if required. There is a convenience in having some intermediate
person between the author and printer, in case the former should
consider any of the charges made by the latter as too high. When
the author himself is quite unacquainted with the details of the
art of printing, he may object to charges which, on a better
acquaintance with the subject, he might be convinced were very
moderate; and in such cases he ought to depend on the judgement
of his publisher, who is generally conversant with the art. This
is particularly the case in the charge for alterations and
corrections, some of which, although apparently trivial, occupy
the compositors much time in making. It should also be observed
that the publisher, in this case, becomes responsible for the
payments to those persons.

384. It is not necessary that the author should avail himself
of this intervention, although it is the interest of the
publisher that he should; and booksellers usually maintain that
the author cannot procure his paper or printing at a cheaper rate
if he go at once to the producers. This appears from the evidence
given before the Committee of the House of Commons in the
Copyright Acts, 8 May, 1818.

Mr O. Rees, bookseller, of the house of Longman and Co.,
Paternoster Row, examined:

Q. Suppose a gentleman to publish a work on his own account,
and to incur all the various expenses; could he get the paper at
30s. a ream?

A. I presume not; I presume a stationer would not sell the
paper at the same price to an indifferent gentleman as to the

Q. The Committee asked you if a private gentleman was to
publish a work on his own account, if he would not pay more for
the paper than persons in the trade; the Committee wish to be
informed whether a printer does not charge a gentleman a higher
rate than to a publisher.

A. I conceive they generally charge a profit on the paper.

Q. Do not the printers charge a higher price also for
printing, than they do to the trade?

A. I always understood that they do.

385. There appears to be little reason for this distinction
in charging for printing a larger price to the author than to the
publisher, provided the former is able to give equal security for
the payment. With respect to the additional charge on paper, if
the author employs either publisher or printer to purchase it,
they ought to receive a moderate remuneration for the risk, since
they become responsible for the payment; but there is no reason
why, if the author deals at once with the paper-maker, he should
not purchase on the same terms as the printer; and if he choose,
by paying ready money, not to avail himself of the long credit
allowed in those trades, he ought to procure his paper
considerably cheaper.

386. It is time, however, that such conventional combinations
between different trades should be done away with. In a country
so eminently depending for its wealth on its manufacturing
industry, it is of importance that there should exist no abrupt
distinction of classes, and that the highest of the aristocracy
should feel proud of being connected, either personally or
through their relatives, with those pursuits on which their
country's greatness depends. The wealthier manufacturers and
merchants already mix with those classes, and the larger and even
the middling tradesmen are frequently found associating with the
gentry of the land. It is good that this ambition should be
cultivated, not by any rivalry in expense, but by a rivalry in
knowledge and in liberal feelings; and few things would more
contribute to so desirable an effect, than the abolition of all
such contracted views as those to which we have alluded. The
advantage to the other classes, would be an increased
acquaintance with the productive arts of the country an increased
attention to the importance of acquiring habits of punctuality
and of business and, above all, a general feeling that it is
honourable, in any rank of life, to increase our own and our
country's riches, by employing our talents in the production or
in the distribution of wealth.

387. Another circumstance omitted to be noticed in the first
edition relates to what is technically called the overplus, which
may be now explained. When 500 copies of a work are to be
printed, each sheet of it requires one ream of paper. Now a ream,
as used by printers, consists of 21 1/2 quires, or 516 sheets.
This excess of sixteen sheets is necessary in order to allow for
'revises'--for preparing and adjusting the press for the due
performance of its work, and to supply the place of any sheets
which may be accidentally dirtied or destroyed in the processes
of printing, or injured by the binder in putting into boards. It
is found, however, that three per cent is more than the
proportion destroyed, and that damage is less frequent in
proportion to the skill and care of the workmen.

From the evidence of several highly respectable booksellers
and printers, before the Committee of the House of Commons on the
Copyright Act, May, 1818, it appears that the average number of
surplus copies, above 500, is between two and three; that on
smaller impressions it is less, whilst on larger editions it is
greater; that, in some instances, the complete number of 500 is
not made up, in which case the printer is obliged to pay for
completing it; and that in no instance have the whole sixteen
extra copies been completed. On the volume in the reader's hands,
the edition of which consisted of 3000, the surplus amounted to
fifty-two--a circumstance arising from the improvements in
printing and the increased care of the pressmen. Now this
overplus ought to be accounted for to the author--and I believe
it usually is so by all respectable publishers.

388. In order to prevent the printer from privately taking
off a larger number of impressions than he delivers to the author
or publisher, various expedients have been adopted. In some works
a particular watermark has been used in paper made purposely for
the book: thus the words 'Mecanique Celeste' appear in the
watermark of the two first volumes of the great work of Laplace.
In other cases, where the work is illustrated by engravings, such
a fraud would be useless without the concurrence of the
copperplate printer. In France it is usual to print a notice on
the back of the title page, that no copies are genuine without
the subjoined signature of the author: and attached to this
notice is the author's name, either written, or printed by hand
from a wooden block. But notwithstanding this precaution, I have
recently purchased a volume, printed at Paris, in which the
notice exists, but no signature is attached. In London there is
not much danger of such frauds, because the printers are men of
capital, to whom the profit on such a transaction would be
trifling, and the risk of the detection of a fact, which must of
necessity be known to many of their workmen, would be so great as
to render the attempt at it folly.

389. Perhaps the best advice to an author, if he publishes on
his own account, and is a reasonable person, possessed of common
sense, would be to go at once to a respectable printer and make
his arrangements with him.

390. If the author do not wish to print his work at his own
risk, then he should make an agreement with a publisher for an
edition of a limited number; but he should by no means sell the
copyright. If the work contains woodcuts or engravings, it would
be judicious to make it part of the contract that they shall
become the author's property, with the view to their use in a
subsequent edition of the works, if they should be required. An
agreement is frequently made by which the publisher advances the
money and incurs all the risk on condition of his sharing the
profits with the author. The profits alluded to are, for the
present work, the last item of section 382, or L306 4s.

391. Having now explained all the arrangements in printing
the present volume, let us return to section 382, and examine the
distribution of the L915 paid by the public. Of this sum L207 was
the cost of the book, L40 was taxes, L3S2 was the charges of the
bookseller in conveying it to the consumer, and L306 remained for

The largest portion, or L362 goes into the pockets of the
booksellers; and as they do not advance capital, and incur very
little risk, this certainly appears to be an unreasonable
allowance. The most extravagant part of the charge is the
thirty-three per cent which is allowed as profit on retailing the

It is stated, however, that all retail booksellers allow to
their customers a discount of ten per cent upon orders above
20s., and that consequently the nominal profit of forty-four or
thirty-three per cent is very much reduced. If this is the case,
it may fairly be enquired, why the price of L2 for example, is
printed upon the back of a book, when every bookseller is ready
to sell it at L1 16s., and why those who are unacquainted with
that circumstance should be made to pay more than others who are
better informed?

392. Several reasons have been alleged as justifying this
high rate of profit.

First, it has been alleged that the purchasers of books take
long credit. This, probably, is often the case, and admitting it,
no reasonable person can object to a proportionate increase of
price. But it is no less clear, that persons who do pay ready
money, should not be charged the same price as those who defer
their payments to a remote period.

Secondly, it has been urged that large profits are necessary
to pay for the great expenses of bookselling establishments; that
rents are high and taxes heavy; and that it would be impossible
for the great booksellers to compete with the smaller ones,
unless the retail profits were great. In reply to this it may be
observed that the booksellers are subject to no peculiar pressure
which does not attach to all other retail trades. It may also be
remarked that large establishments always have advantages over
smaller ones, in the economy arising from the division of labour;
and it is scarcely to be presumed that booksellers are the only
class who, in large concerns, neglect to avail themselves of

Thirdly, it has been pretended that this high rate of profit
is necessary to cover the risk of the bookseller's having some
copies left on his shelves; but he is not obliged to buy of the
publisher a single copy more than he has orders for: and if he do
purchase more, at the subscription price, he proves, by the very
fact, that he himself does not estimate that risk at more than
from four to eight per cent.

393. It has been truly observed, on the other hand, that many
copies of books are spoiled by persons who enter the shops of
booksellers without intending to make any purchase. But, not to
mention that such persons finding on the tables various new
publications, are frequently induced, by that opportunity of
inspecting them, to become purchasers: this damage does not apply
to all booksellers nor to all books; of course it is not
necessary to keep in the shop books of small probable demand or
great price. In the present case, the retail profit on three
copies only, namely, 4s. 6d., would pay the whole cost of the one
copy soiled in the shop; and even that copy might afterwards
produce, at an auction, half or a third of its cost price. The
argument, therefore, from disappointments in the sale of books,
and that arising from heavy stock, are totally groundless in the
question between publisher and author. It shold be remarked also,
that the publisher is generally a retail, as well as a wholesale,
bookseller; and that, besides his profit upon every copy which he
sells in his capacity of agent, he is allowed to charge the
author as if every copy had been subscribed for at 4s. 2d., and
of course he receives the same profit as the rest of the
wholesale traders for the books retailed in his own shop.

394. In the country, there is more reason for a considerable
allowance between the retail dealer and the public; because the
profit of the country bookseller is diminished by the expense of
the carriage of the books from London. He must also pay a
commission, usually five per cent, to his London agent, on all
those books which his correspondent does not himself publish. If
to this be added a discount of five per cent, allowed for ready
money to every customer, and of ten per cent to book clubs, the
profit of the bookseller in a small country town is by no means
too large.

Some of the writers, who have published criticisms on the
observations made in the first edition of this work, have
admitted that the apparent rate of profit to the booksellers is
too large. But they have, on the other hand, urged that too
favourable a case is taken in supposing the whole 3000 copies
sold. If the reader will turn back to section 382, he will find
that the expense of the three first items remains the same,
whatever be the number of copies sold; and on looking over the
remaining items he will perceive that the bookseller, who incurs
very little risk and no outlay, derives exactly the same profit
per cent on the copies sold, whatever their numbers may be. This,
however, is not the case with the unfortunate author, on whom
nearly the whole of the loss falls undivided. The same writers
have also maintained, that the profit is fixed at the rate
mentioned, in order to enable the bookseller to sustain losses,
unavoidably incurred in the purchase and retail of other books.
This is the weakest of all arguments. It would be equally just
that a merchant should charge an extravagant commission for an
undertaking unaccompanied with any risk, in order to repay
himself for the losses which his own want of skill might lead to
in his other mercantile transactions.

395. That the profit in retailing books is really too large,
is proved by several circumstances: First, that the same nominal
rate of profit has existed in the bookselling trade for a long
series of years, notwithstanding the great fluctuations in the
rate of profit on capital invested in every other business.
Secondly, that, until very lately, a multitude of booksellers, in
all parts of London, were content with a much smaller profit, and
were willing to sell for ready money, or at short credit, to
persons of undoubted character, at a profit of only ten per cent,
and in some instances even at a still smaller percentage, instead
of that of twenty-five per cent on the published prices. Thirdly,
that they are unable to maintain this rate of profit except by a
combination, the object of which is to put down all competition.

396. Some time ago a small number of the large London
booksellers entered into such a combination. One of their objects
was to prevent any bookseller from selling books for less than
ten per cent under the published prices; and in order to enforce
this principle, they refuse to sell books, except at the
publishing price, to any bookseller who declines signing an
agreement to that effect. By degrees, many were prevailed upon to
join this combination; and the effect of the exclusion it
inflicted, left the small capitalist no option between signing or
having his business destroyed. Ultimately, nearly the whole
trade, comprising about two thousand four hundred persons, have
been compelled to sign the agreement.

As might be naturally expected from a compact so injurious to
many of the parties to it, disputes have arisen; several
booksellers have been placed under the ban of the combination,
who allege that they have not violated its rules, and who accuse
the opposite party of using spies, etc., to entrap them.(3*)

397. The origin of this combination has been explained by Mr
Pickering, of Chancery Lane, himself a publisher, in a printed
statement, entitled, 'Booksellers' Monopoly' and the following
list of booksellers, who form the committee for conducting this
combination, is copied from that printed at the head of each of
the cases published by Mr Pickering:

Allen, J., 7, Leadenhall Street.
Arch, J., 61, Cornhill.
Baldwin, R., 47, Paternoster Row.
Booth, J.
Duncan, J., 37, Paternoster Row.
Hatchard, J., Piccadilly.
Marshall, R., Stationers' Court.
Murray, J., Albemarle Street.
Rees, O., 39, Paternoster Row.
Richardson, J. M., 23, Cornhill.
Rivington, J., St. Paul's Churchyard.
Wilson, E., Royal Exchange.

398. In whatever manner the profits are divided between the
publisher and the retail bookseller, the fact remains, that the
reader pays for the volume in his hands 6s., and that the author
will receive only 3s. 10d.; out of which latter sum, the expense
of printing the volume must be paid: so that in passing through
two hands this book has produced a profit of forty-four per cent.
This excessive rate of profit has drawn into the book trade a
larger share of capital than was really advantageous; and the
competition between the different portions of that capital has
naturally led to the system of underselling, to which the
committee above mentioned are endeavouring to put a stop.(4*)

399. There are two parties who chiefly suffer from this
combination, the public and authors. The first party can seldom be
induced to take an active part against any grievance; and in fact
little is required from it, except a cordial support of the
authors, in any attempt to destroy a combination so injurious to
the interests of both.

Many an industrious bookseller would be glad to sell for 5s.
the volume which the reader holds in his hand, and for which he
has paid 6s.; and, in doing so for ready money, the tradesman who
paid 4s. 6d. for the book, would realize, without the least risk,
a profit of eleven per cent on the money he had advanced. It is
one of the objects of the combination we are discussing, to
prevent the small capitalist from employing his capital at that
rate of profit which he thinks most advantageous to himself; and
such a proceeding is decidedly injurious to the public.

400. Having derived little pecuniary advantage from my own
literary productions; and being aware, that from the very nature
of their subjects, they can scarcely be expected to reimburse the
expense of preparing them, I may be permitted to offer an opinion
upon the subject, which I believe to be as little influenced by
any expectation of advantage from the future, as it is by any
disappointment at the past.

Before, however, we proceed to sketch the plan of a campaign
against Paternoster Row, it will be fit to inform the reader of
the nature of the enemies' forces, and of his means of attack and
defence. Several of the great publishers find it convenient to be
the proprietors of reviews, magazines, journals, and even of
newspapers. The editors are paid, in some instances very
handsomely, for their superintendence; and it is scarcely to be
expected that they should always mete out the severest justice on
works by the sale of which their employers are enriched. The
great and popular works of the day are, of course, reviewed with
some care, and with deference to public opinion. Without this,
the journals would not sell; and it is convenient to be able to
quote such articles as instances of impartiality. Under shelter
of this, a host of ephemeral productions are written into a
transitory popularity; and by the aid of this process, the
shelves of the booksellers, as well as the pockets of the public,
are disencumbered. To such an extent are these means employed,
that some of the periodical publications of the day ought to be
regarded merely as advertising machines. That the reader may be
in some measure on his guard against such modes of influencing
his judgement, he should examine whether the work reviewed is
published by the bookseller who is the proprietor of the review;
a fact which can sometimes be ascertained from the title of the
book as given at the head of the article. But this is by no means
a certain criterion, because partnerships in various publications
exist between houses in the book trade, which are not generally
known to the public; so that, in fact, until reviews are
established in which booksellers have no interest, they can never
be safely trusted.

401. In order to put down the combination of booksellers, no
plan appears so likely to succeed as a counter-association of
authors. If any considerable portion of the literary world were
to unite and form such an association; and if its affairs were
directed by an active committee, much might be accomplished. The
objects of such an union should be, to employ some person well
skilled in the printing, and in the bookselling trade; and to
establish him in some central situation as their agent. Each
member of the association to be at liberty to place any, or all
of his works in the hands of this agent for sale; to allow any
advertisements, or list of books published by members of the
association, to be stitched up at the end of each of his own
productions; the expense of preparing them being defrayed by the
proprietors of the books advertised.

The duties of the agent would be to retail to the public, for
ready money, copies of books published by members of the
association. To sell to the trade, at prices agreed upon, any
copies they may require. To cause to be inserted in the journals,
or at the end of works published by members, any advertisements
which the committee or authors may direct. To prepare a general
catalogue of the works of members. To be the agent for any member
of the association respecting the printing of any work.

Such a union would naturally present other advantages; and as
each author would retain the liberty of putting any price he
might think fit on his productions, the public would have the
advantage of reduction in price produced by competition between
authors on the same subject, as well as of that arising from a
cheaper mode of publishing the volumes sold to them.

402. Possibly, one of the consequences resulting from such an
association, would be the establishment of a good and an
impartial review, a work the want of which has been felt for
several years. The two long-established and celebrated reviews,
the unbending champions of the most opposite political opinions.
are, from widely differing causes, exhibiting unequivocal signs
of decrepitude and decay. The quarterly advocate of despotic
principles is fast receding from the advancing intelligence of
the age; the new strength and new position which that
intelligence has acquired, demands for its expression, new
organs, equally the representatives of its intellectual power,
and of its moral energies: whilst, on the other hand, the sceptre
of the northern critics has passed, from the vigorous grasp of
those who established its dominion, into feebler hands.

403. It may be stated as a difficulty in realizing this
suggestion, that those most competent to supply periodical
criticism, are already engaged. But it is to be observed, that
there are many who now supply literary criticisms to journals,
the political principles of which they disapprove; and that if
once a respectable and well-supported review(5*) were
established, capable of competing, in payment to its
contributors, with the wealthiest of its rivals, it would very
soon be supplied with the best materials the country can produce.
(6*) It may also be apprehended that such a combination of
authors would be favourable to each other. There are two
temptations to which an editor of a review is commonly exposed:
the first is, a tendency to consult too much, in the works he
criticizes, the interest of the proprietor of his review; the
second, a similar inclination to consult the interests of his
friends. The plan which has been proposed removes one of these
temptations, but it would be very difficult, if not impossible,
to destroy the other.


1. The whole of the subsequent details relate to the first
edition of this work.

2. These details vary with different books and different
publishers; those given in the text are believed to substantially
correct, and are applicable to works like the present.

3. It is now understood that the use of spies has been given up;
and it is also known that the system of underselling is again
privately resorted to by many, so that the injury arising from
this arbitrary system, pursued by the great booksellers, affects
only, or most severely, those whose adherence to an extorted
promise most deserves respect. Note to the second edition.

4 The monopoly cases. Nos. 1. 2. and 3. of those published by Mr
Pickering, should be consulted upon this point; and, as the
public will be better able to form a judgement by hearing the
other side of the question, it is to be hoped the Chairman of the
Committee (Mr Richardson) will publish those regulations
respecting the trade, a copy of which. Mr Pickering states, is
refused by the Committee even to those who sign them.

5. At the moment when this opinion as to the necessity for a new
review was passing through the press. I was informed that the
elements of such an undertaking were already organized.

6. I have been suggested to me, that the doctrines maintained in
this chapter may subject the present volume to the opposition of
that combination which it has opposed. I do not entertain that
opinion; and for this reason, that the booksellers are too shrewd
a class to supply such an admirable passport to publicity as
their opposition would prove to be if generally suspected. But
should my readers take a different view of the question, they can
easily assist in remedying the evil, by each mentioning the
existence of this little volume to two of his friends.

{I was wrong in this conjecture; all booksellers are not so
shrewd as I had imagined, for some did refuse to sell this
volume; consequently others sold a larger number of copies.

In the preface to the second edition, at the commencement of
this volume, the reader will find some further observation on the
effect of the booksellers' combination.}

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